Marcventures insists on right to mine
Marcventures Holdings Inc. (MHI) reiterated on Thursday that its subsidiary’s mine in Surigao del Sur province would continue to operate, defying a government order to shut down operations in a watershed area.
The firm said the project was expected to ship out minerals next month, and its president, Isidro Alcantara Jr., insisted that its mining concern “had prior rights that must be respected.”
“We strongly object to such action being made without observance of due process and without basis in fact and in law,” Alcantara said in a letter to its shareholders.
Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC) received on Monday an order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) canceling its mineral production agreement (MPSA).
It is one of up to 75 mining contracts ordered by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez closed down.
But Alcantara said the document “failed to identify specific environmental violations of MMDC which would warrant cancellation” of the contract.
“While the order mentioned that MMDC operates in a declared watershed, we clarify that MMDC has prior legal right to operate in the area since its MPSA was approved in 1993, prior to the issuance of the watershed declaration under Presidential Proclamation No. 1747 issued in 2009, which specifically stated that ‘prior rights must be respected,’” he said.
The environment department also called out MMDC for allegedly failing to implement a program to plant 3 million seedlings.
Alcantara said MMDC had submitted the program proposal as early as February 2015, but was prevented from implementing it due to “previous inaction of the DENR.”
He said the matter was resolved only in December 2016 when Lopez herself approved the program.
He added that MMDC was able to secure a memorandum of agreement with the concerned local government units only on Feb. 9.
“We therefore see no basis at all for the closure order,” Alcantara said. “We will take all the necessary legal actions and exhaust all remedies available to prevent the implementation of the order.”
Alcantara said MDDC’s nickel mine was expected to operate as usual and to start ore shipments by the first week of March 2017.
At the Philippine Stock Exchange, three more firms said they had interest in MPSAs listed among the 75 contracts that Lopez had identified.
DMCI Mining Corp., a unit of DMCI Holdings Inc., said it has also received an order for the suspension of operations for Berong Nickel Corp. (BNC) and another for the cancellation of the MPSA for Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC).
“ZDMC and BNC shall seek redress from the subject DENR orders raising, among others, the lack of due process and legal bases for the issuance of the same,” DMCI said.
“The company does not foresee these orders as having any significant, immediate impact on its bottom line, as both nickel companies had not been operating for the most part of 2016,” it added.
Also, A Brown Co. Inc. said it has minority interests in PhiGold Ltd. which has ownership in PhiGold Metallic Ore Inc. as well as in Apex Mining Co., the parent firm of Itogon-Suyoc Resources Inc.
The MPSAs assigned to PhilGold and to Itogon-Suyoc were also among MPSAs ordered canceled.
“Currently, the corporation does not derive any income from these investments,” A Brown said. “The effect on our investments will depend on the changes in the share price of these companies.”
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